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Dexter Gordon: “Body and Soul”

Dexter Gordon’s website sums up his importance in one line. He was, it says, “the first musician to translate the language of Bebop to the tenor saxophone.”

Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz goes deeper:

Gordon was a major force in the emergence of modern tenor saxophone styles. His main influence was Lester Young, but he also displays an extroverted intensity reminiscent of Herschel Evans and Illinois Jacquet. His rich, vibrant sound, harmonic awareness, behind-the-beat phrasing, and predilection for C humorous quotations combine to create a unique style. Gordon’s music strongly affected the two leading tenor saxophonists of the succeeding generation, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Gordon was later influenced in turn by Coltrane, and even, following Coltrane’s example, adopted the soprano saxophone during the late 1970s

To a non musician, the key is that Gordon had a beautiful and soulful tone. Here are You’ve Changed, Charlie Parker’s Scrapple from the Apple and Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk. Here is more on ParkerMonk and Lester Young.

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